Progress leader says online abuse putting off candidates

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POTENTIAL election candidates are being put off from standing due to fears of online abuse and intrusion into their private lives, the leader of the Progress Party has said.

Senator Steve Pallett claimed that one candidate who had expressed interest in standing for the party had walked away, while others were not confident enough to come forward owing to concerns over the pressures and challenges of holding public office.

He said: ‘What concerns me is something that’s been brought up in the media recently and that is people not feeling confident enough to stand for election.

‘It can be because they are worried that their private lives are going to be destroyed, that they’re going to suffer online abuse or they’re not going to be treated in a fair way.

‘That’s coming across with the people that we’re talking to and I’ve already had one potential candidate that’s walked away because of those sorts of concerns.’

He added: ‘I feel for the current States Members that are standing again and also for new potential candidates because it’s a big decision to make and it does affect your life.

‘It puts you under an awful lot of pressure but with that comes an awful lot of responsibility and the opportunity to meet some really good people. You’ve got to balance that out.

‘In terms of the candidates, we’ve got several people we’re talking to and I’d like to think we can announce some candidates fairly soon. We’re open to talking to new people and we’re going to concentrate in the next four weeks on a drive towards attracting candidates.’

The Progress Party, which includes former-Environment Minister Deputy Steve Luce and ex-States Member Eddie Noel, was the first of the new political parties announced last year and will compete against other newcomers – the Jersey Alliance and the Jersey Liberal Conservatives – as well as Reform Jersey, which was established in 2014.

Senator Pallett said that he expected Progress to publish its manifesto in the spring, having outlined higher level policy commitments on its website.

‘In terms of policy and manifesto, we have one more document to put on our website, which covers health, and that will give us a full suite of overarching policies so that people can see our direction,’ he said.

‘We are due to finish that this week. The manifesto will not be released, and I’ve made no secret about this, until just before nomination night because that’s when we’ll be launching our manifesto and our campaign.

‘This is because it’s very much a case of not wanting our work plagiarised, especially when you are going to have potentially three or four other parties running. It won’t be a full document until probably the end of April,’ he added.

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